Edna was born in 1925 in Tottenham. Her father (although being in his early 40s) served in WWI (1/4 Northamptonshire Regt.) in the Mesopotamian campaign, and was discharged after breaking an ankle (not combat wound). After the war he Father bought a shop at 153 Mount Pleasant Road, Tottenham, a large corner building. It was a tobacconist, confectioners, and newsagent. Family lived in rooms behind and over the shop. The family was well off, and had three house servants, including one who acted as a nurse girl for the younger children.
Her sister (then 8-1/2), May, was most surprised when Edna was born, and only found out when she went to a neighbouring store and was asked about her new sister. “I thought my grandmother had brought her for my mother. I found out years after, that she was a mid-wife and had delivered all my mother’s children.”
“In November, 1925, when Edna was 10 months old, my father, who had always suffered from asthma attacks, sold his business and the family moved to Torquay in Devon. I think that we were there for about four months, just one winter and then we moved to Brighton in Sussex….”
“I don’t know how long we were in Brighton before he brought another shop, 2 Prince Albert Street. It seems a long time but it was probably only a few weeks. We were quite prosperous at first but when the depression came in the late 20s times got very bad and my hard working mother turned her beautiful home into a boarding house. Brighton was a year round tourist area and as we were only a short block to the seafront we had lots of boarders. I remember that in the summer, when the house was full, I was sent to the country somewhere, taking Edna, still then a very young child, with me….”
….. We moved back to London early in 1930. We lived with my grandmother (Dewbery) and Uncle Will and Aunt Amy at 999 Langham Road, Woodgreen, just for a few weeks until Easter when my father bought a shop at 7 Green Lanes, Newington Green. Kath and Daisy Withers both worked in the shop, for the previous owner, and that is how I met the Withers. The first member of the family that I met was Peg, who was nearly seven and had just been a bridesmaid at Daisy’s wedding. Edna was five and the two of them became fast friends. I think we must have lived in Wood Green at first because I remember that the apartment behind the store had no furniture at all. I guess ours was in storage.”
“We lived in very cramped quarters behind the shop for a short time and then we moved into a house right opposite the shop and next door to the Withers. I loved the Withers family, there were so many of them, it was like a party all the time.”
“Mr. Withers (Robert George) died in 1932 and for some reason Peg and I exchanged places…. Our household was always so tidy and quiet.... My brother was seven years older than me and Edna was 8 ½ years younger. I did spend quite a lot of time with Peg and Edna though. I took them to the show almost every week, sometimes standing at the back with Edna in my arms and Peg on my back, when it was crowded and standing room only. Also, I used to take them to dancing lessons and make all the clothes for the dancing classes.”
“I think we lived next door to the Withers for about two years and then my parents managed to get an apartment over our shop…..”
[End of November, 1935, parent sold the shop and moved to Godalming, Surrey. May went to live with the Withers.]
“Most of the family [including Withers?], who lived in London, came to stay with us at weekends to have a break from the bombings. We had only two bedrooms but they were all quite happy to sleep on the floor on mattresses….”
[c. 1940] Next my parents and Edna came and we found them an apartment at 22 Victoria Avenue, very close to us.
“My father died in September 1941 and my mother in June 1942. Edna was only 17 at the time and went to live with Mum Withers. She could have stayed with us and Kitty, but thought she’d have a better deal with the Withers, and, of course, Peg was there.”
[Peg met a young Canadian from Toronto, Stan Gallant, marrying him July 18, 1942]
Robert Emerson Everett was serving with the RCAF as a navigator early in the war. There is a story Bob went to a movie, alone and took a seat. A women he had never met sat beside him. In the darkness she put her and on his knee (or thigh). This so rattled him, he immediately got up and left. Walking about he found an dance and went in. He was attracted to one "wallflower" (family chuckles at this description) in particular.
[I confess to know almost nothing of their courtship.]
Bob and Edna married January 2, 1943. As she was only 17, she required written permission from her parents (both deceased) or a near relative. Her older brother refused approval. (That and other things led to an estrangement with the rest of the family. A connection with his daughter was made in 2015.) It was her grandmother who signed the paperwork.
“He and Edna left England in early March 1943. Edna was only just 18 when she left. She seemed so young to be going off to another country, to people she had never met. I remember I took her to St. Pancras train station and saw her off on a train. She had no idea how she would be going to Canada, or where from. Everything was hush-hush in the war. As it turned out, she went on the Queen Elizabeth and Bob was aboard too, but never saw him until they docked because the troops were separated from the War Brides.”
“Edna was in Canada and was so thoughtful about sending nice things to me.”
“Heather May was born on December 30, 1943. Little did I know how very dear and close to me Heather would become in later years.”
[May and Les, with a growing family, were struggling. Edna wrote asking if they would consider emigrating to Canada, promising to find a job and housing for them. Les replied, “Send a telegram and say yes.”]
findmypast gives location of birth as Edmonton, Middlesex
May Withers' recollections, 1998
Edna is 24 degrees from SJ Baty, 23 degrees from Orville Redenbacher and 19 degrees from Victoria of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland on our single family tree. Login to find your connection.